This morning we found a dead 3-month Ameraucana in the hut. All the hut-mates were fine, unconcerned, unafraid. There were no apparent injuries on the dead bird, and we had noticed no symptoms of disease. Nor evidence of mites, well-feathered. The bird seemed well fleshed (not crop bound or wormy). There is no evidence at all of predator intrusion, the huts are surrounded by electro net that jolted the heck out of me last evening (love the bull fencer) I would have thought these birds were too big to allow themselves to be crushed. The bird certainly looks like the other birds had been sitting on it all night, quite flat. But that could have happened after death. The only concern we have been having is a mobbing of small black gnats or black flies in the pasture. The birds are quite plagued by them. The gnats/flies/no-see-ums do not seem to bite so much as constantly annoy your face/eyes/nostrils/mouth. Could the insects have driven the birds to huddle so tightly that they suffocated one? It seems so very odd. I am going to put it on the list of "one of those strange things that happen with chickens" unless someone has some ideas. I have been trying to figure out how to reduce the numbers of bugs, it seems a hopeless business. We live in an agricultural area full of fields and woods providing insect habitat. We already encourage all the bug eating birds and bats we can. Do bug zappers work on these insects? Do they come to cider vinegar and soap in a bucket? Will they come in significant numbers to give the birds some relief? Would sticky fly paper help in an open air environment?